SAN ANTONIO Don't get on the bus in Ft. Worth, Texas, if you're not properly dressed.
The Ft. Worth Transportation Authority, known as "The T," has implemented a new policy that prohibits any passenger from boarding a bus with "saggy" pants that expose the person's underwear or buttocks.
"Riders don't want to see a person dressed like that on a public bus," Joan Hunter, communications manager for The T, told Reuters on Thursday. "Our customers think it's disrespectful."
The saggy pants look has been around for more than a decade, tracing its roots to prison attire because inmates are not issued belts. It spread to the rap and hip-hop music community, and from there became a popular symbol of freedom and cultural awareness for many young people.
Hunter said the new saggy pants policy is simply an extension of the dress code that The T has had for years, which has long required shirts and shoes.
"A lot of different people ride the bus," she said. "And many of them told us it's not a good idea to have your pants below your buttocks."
So up went signs in city buses, reading "Pull 'em up or find another ride."
Hunter said a Ft. Worth City Council member is looking for a donor to pay for billboards that carry the same message.
She said the decision on whether a potential rider's pants are inappropriate is up to the discretion of the bus driver.
The first day the policy was in place about 50 people were removed for improper pants, Hunter said.
Some passengers have complained that The T is trying to dictate what they can and can't wear, Hunter said, but overall reaction has been positive. She pointed out that many Ft. Worth-area schools have a similar policy.
"Following this rule is actually easier than following any other clothing policy we have," she said.
"All you need to do is pull your pants up before you get onto the bus. You don't have to go home and get a shirt or get a pair of shoes. Then, after you get off the bus, you can dress however you want."
(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Peter Bohan)